Calí hai? No, I've just got a cold. (oh, and we're calling it half way there...)

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September 16th 2009
Published: September 18th 2009
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Caldas Coutryside.Caldas Coutryside.Caldas Coutryside.

Nothing shabby.
It took me a while to get my act together. I want to blame it on my cold but I know that it was just the same old crap. Andy stood there shaking his head as I got everything just so. "Are you done leaving yet?" - One last sarcastic remark before my departure. If I see his arse on the other end of the continent it will be too soon.

I got lost on the way out of town, ended up in Caldas. I pulled off at one point to ask a truck driver. "I'm lost... How do I get to Calí?"
"Lost? You're not lost. Just keep going that way!" he chuckled
I shuddered briefly. Was this the highway? It couldn't possibly like this all the way, road winding through town after town, kid's skitching off of the back of trucks. Was I back in Mexico? I asked a cop when I got to the town square who begrudgingly interrupted his catcalling - some female officers were passing by - long enough to toss a hand up, signaling straight ahead. In the end I was right. I told you Colombia: you're better than that. In other words, I
Caught on Camera!Caught on Camera!Caught on Camera!

Dude's talking on his cell phone while riding a motorcycle. What IDIOCY! I mean who would operate an electronic device while operating a motorbike? Jackass...
wasn't on the highway, but I was roughly running along next to it. Luckily, when I saw what I later realized was the worlds sneakiest highway interchange I had the good sense to stop and ask a gas station attendant what the deal was. "you see where all the traffic's going?" ...he may make you feel like an idiot but the gas guys rarely fail to get you where you want to go. Cops, truck drivers - they don't know. Listen to those assholes and you'll end up in Venezuela. Actually, for reasons i won't here recount, that would have been a fatal but hilarious turn of events. Anyway...

Up and up. Suddenly the earth fell away on both sides. The sides of the highway are still as populated as ever, but the breaks in the trees, houses and storefronts yeilded spectacular views, a deep craggy valley on the right side, and a broad undulating expanse on the left. Enjoying the cool air, rising to and falling out of the clouds along the narrow ridge even after I realized I wasn't getting anywhere. Effit. I AM there.

I said to Andy after we got to Medellin that I
Failed attempt.Failed attempt.Failed attempt.

There's a town in the middle of the frame, way off in the distance, Cathedral spires towering above, though dwarfed by mountains. Anythign? Didn't think so.
finally felt like I was in South America. Today the feeling's still new. So long I'd dreamed of it, even now it's only a taste, but still it's there on the tongue: Andes!

Ten meter drop-offs on either side of the road fell to Mayan-, no, Incan- stepped rows of burgeoning young coffee trees. Lower down, in the lush humid valleys further south, wax palms and livestock seemed more firmly entrenched. Once in the Valle Del Cruca - a long expansive valley spanning about 200 km - Cane fields spilled out onto the roadway. But interest in the agriculture of the regions gives way to the realization that this was probably the most voraciously deforested landscape I've yet seen. Worse than El Salvador. The difference is that Colombia has millions of acres of inaccessible forests and the population - and the damage - is generally constrained to more or less two belts spanning the country from north to south. As such they can avoid alarming statistics like "only 2%!o(MISSING)f Primary forests remain" as is the case in El Salvador. I'd like to see a statistic like that for Caldas department.

From Cartago to Cali was a
The sun hangs low over the CaucaThe sun hangs low over the CaucaThe sun hangs low over the Cauca

Cane fields burnt in the foreground, burning in the mid.
high-speed blur. What I remember most was the fact that they were building a big, luxurious two lane highway in pieces. That is to say you'd be going along for ten 10km and then it would turn 90 degrees to the left and join the oncoming lane, sometimes with little warning. That and they had a rather Mexican habit of throwing speed bumps in the middle of nowhere and painting falsies in populated areas. Still I made pretty good time into town (and definitely broke in my new breaks).

I guess I could sense that i was rolling over the half way mark. It just started to feel downhill - even though I'm not over the equator yet...

Note to folks:

Decided to push through to Cali today. I don't know if the non-drowsy cold medicine had anything to do with it, but I just couldn't get enough of the spectacular countryside to stop. Now that I'm here I wish I stayed to pass the evening in one of the picturesque mountainside towns. After Medellin I'd already had my fill of the metropolitan vibe... and prices.
Anyway, I'll check out the town tomorrow and see if
Flames in the fieldsFlames in the fieldsFlames in the fields

Cali on the horizon. The picture does no justice, but the inferno was impressive. 20 foot flames leaping over the slashed-and-burning field.
the rumors are true before continuing on. Apparently they've got the most beautiful women in the world here. Even some Medellin locals said so and they like to stake the same claim so you know the bar is set high. Between the hostel staff and the corner grocery I've not yet been wowed or anything but if i find the babes everyone's been talking about I'll try not to sneeze on them...


Woke up early, noticed a poster on the wall of the hostel which was nice enough to inform me that today began the XIV Festival Internacional de Arte De Cali. I only had the opening ceremony and two eighties Argentine movies to choose from today, but one did seem right up my alley. "El Hombre Mirando al Sureste" (The Man looking Southeast). I resolved to go and tooled around on the internet before heading out to find Auditorium 5 at the Universidad del Valle. I left with just under forty-five minutes to find the joint but somehow still didn't manage. By the time I found the university at all it was ten minutes after the film started so I decided I'd
Do-nothing at it's bestDo-nothing at it's bestDo-nothing at it's best

The palpitating heart...
just have to pass up the whole damn festival. Either way I'm leaving in the morning.

In the course of my excursion I saw a sporting paraphernalia stand that I was sure would have a good Colombia patch for my jacket and it so happened to be in the palpitating heart of Cali so I decided to make another, this time on foot. I found no such patch and, as I said the heart of Cali palpitates, rather than beating out a hearty throb. Anyway, I made friends with a drug dealer named Carlos but otherwise the outing was rather mundane - or rather, thursdane.

When I got back I made a unbelievably cheap and delicious noodle soup and something even more unbelievable - an itinerary. Unbelievable in the fact that I made it at all and the feat it will be to complete. 16250km AT LEAST, much of it unpaved and in less than 100 days. Thats pretty much exactly 10,000 Miles so 100 miles per day, which might not sound like much but I don't plan on riding every day, not to mention there are several stretches of 400+km dirt roads between destinations. Effing bolivia... But
Typists of CaliTypists of CaliTypists of Cali

They just hang out outside the cathedral. Love note? Dissertation? They got you.
seriously. It's going to be soooo friggin' amazing. You'll see.
Anyway, if you've made it this far, congrats. I'm gonna go have a beer with the fruit bats on the balcony. The degenerates have taken to feeding off the bird feeders. Hummingbirds are pretty much thieves already, so I don't know what to think of these scumbags.

Oh, and the verdict is Nah, Medellinitas were way hotter....


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